OnwardMobility has not delivered the first 5G BlackBerry as it promised for the first half of this year
OnwardMobility and its partner said they would develop a new BlackBerry that would come during the first half of this year with 5G connectivity support. And the new licensees knew what sets a BlackBerry apart from any other handset by announcing that the handset would be equipped with a physical QWERTY keyboard. But as PCMag points out, 2021 has only a few weeks left of life, and no one has heard a peep from OnwardMobility.
KEY2 LE is the latest BlackBerry launched in the US to date
The company said back in February that it had hired some employees, including a European business manager and a director of public sales. However, in an email to PCMag, OnwardMobility recently wrote: “Right now, OnwardMobility is unable to share more details or conduct any interviews. Thank you for your patience as they continue to develop the world’s most productive, user-friendly and secure mobile unit.”
There are probably enough fans of physical keyboards that the first to have 5G support might be of interest to them. Right now, a company called Unihertz has been pushes the Titan out at a price of $ 340. The device looks like an Android-powered version of the BlackBerry Passport with its wide body and larger QWERTY keys. Unihertz also produced a version of Titan that is 30% smaller. This model, Titan Pocket, will cost you $ 300 (and is currently backordered).
BlackBerry was the second largest smartphone company in the world during 2006. The year, the last before the iPhone made its debut in 2007, the industry sent a total of 64 million smartphones for the entire year. Compare that figure with the 1.38 billion units shipped in 2020. Nokia was the leading manufacturer of smartphones at the time with close to 50% of the market.
In 2007, BlackBerry sold 11.77 million smartphones compared to the 3.3 million iPhone devices supplied by Apple. Nokia shipped more than 60 million smartphones that year with the BlackBerry in second place. In 2008, BlackBerry parent company Research In Motion (RIM) calculated that it would take on Apple (which shipped 13.8 million iPhone devices in 2008 compared to 23.6 million BlackBerry phones), so it came with the BlackBerry Storm.
The idea was that the user should tap the touch screen and get the same tactile experience by pressing a real keyboard key. The first variant of the device was a big bold failure as the device did not have Wi-Fi support and there was no app store to speak of. Still, Verizon sold a ton of them, though almost every single device was sent back to the carrier for repair. BlackBerry Storm 2 got the keyboard right and added Wi-Fi connectivity, but by then it was too late.
In 2011, 93.1 million iPhone smartphones were shipped, compared to 51.1 million BlackBerry phones. You can read what BlackBerry’s response to the iPhone was about read about the arrogant and ignorant quotes attributed to co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis after the iPhone was unveiled in January 2007. Leaders did not see the iPhone as a threat until it was too late.
BlackBerry fans deserve to know what happens to the phone as promised
BlackBerry began offering touchscreen phones with physical QWERTY keyboards. On some models, the keyboard would slide out of the way to provide more screen space. One of the better BlackBerry models for combining a touch screen and a physical keyboard was the Bold 9930. But software continued to hold BlackBerry back until it finally gave in and installed Android to run the BlackBerry Priv in 2015, and finally gave the BlackBerry users the app store as they had been demanding.
Fans of BlackBerry hoped that OnwardMobility would give them everything they wanted from a modern ‘Berry’ including the physical keyboard, flagship quality cameras, a powerful chipset, a huge battery and 5G capacity. The licensee is already being delayed and it would be nice to get a statement from the company describing exactly what is going on. It owes the company legions of BlackBerry fans whose hopes it had raised early last year.